Saturday, June 23, 2012


BETWEEN LOVE AND LUST IN THE BRAIN - Is it love or lust? A new study co-authored by Concordia University professor Jim Pfaus shows that in the human brain you can't have one without the other. "No one has ever put these two together to see the patterns of activation," said Pfaus, whose study showed an overlap in the areas of the brain that are stimulated by love and by sexual desire. The psychology professor explained that the brain can't divorce love from reward and desire. "It really grows out of it.  And you need desire there to keep the love alive." Along with researchers in the U.S. and Switzerland, Pfaus looked at the results from 20 different studies that examined brain activity as subjects looked at exotic pictures and photos of their partners. 
Researchers found that in each case the photos activated areas of the striatum, which is located inside the forebrain. According to the study, the area of the striatum that's triggered by sexual desire is usually activated by things that are naturally pleasurable, such as food or sex, while the area triggered by love is conditioned by moments linked to rewards or pleasures.

"When we have love at first sight, is there ever a time that we don't want to consummate that love by having sex? I don't think so," Pfaus told However, he noted that love and desire affect the brain in very different ways. "It's not like love is lust taken to the tenth degree," said Pfaus. He explained that feelings of love involve the bonding mechanism of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, and dopamine, which controls the brain's reward and pleasure centres. Pfaus said researchers were surprised to find that the area of the brain associated with love is also associated with addiction. "When your lover says I'm not going to see you anymore, you don't say, ‘I'll just find another.' You start acting like a drug addict. You search for that, you beg for it and you want it. It's as if your heart has been ripped out." 
Pfaus explained that love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as that desire is rewarded. "It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs," he said. He pointed to studies that show a deactivation in certain parts of the brain when someone falls out of love. Pfaus said the study sheds a new light on addiction and its impact on the human brain.

Scientists claim to have identified a neurological difference between love and lust. According to this new study, love and sexual desire activate different but related areas of the brain. Researchers have traced the origin of love to a part of the brain linked to drug addiction. This meta-analysis led to a map of love and desire in the brain, which shows that the insula and the striatum are involved in the progression from sexual desire to love. From the Vedic point of view, both lust and material love are māyā’s love, whereas Real Love is God's love, the endless and fully rewarding Love.

You refer to the word “love” several times in your letter, but the actual fact is that there is no love in this material world. That is false propaganda. ... In the Vedic language there is no word for materialistic “love,” as we call it in the present day. The word kāma describes lust or material desire, not love, but the word that we find in the Vedas for actual love is premā, meaning one’s love of God only. Outside of loving God there is no possibility of loving. Rather, there is lusty desire only. Within this atmosphere of matter, the entire range of human activities - and not only every activity of human beings but all living entities - is based upon, given impetus and thus polluted by sex desire, the attraction between male and female. For that sex life, the whole universe is spinning around - and suffering! That is the harsh truth. So-called love here means that “you gratify my senses, I’ll gratify your senses,” and as soon as that gratification stops, immediately there is divorce, separation, quarrel, and hatred. So many things are going on under this false conception of love. Actual love means love of God, Krishna.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
"The Science of Self Realization"
SSR 7: "Exploring the Spiritual Frontier"
"Protecting Oneself from Illusion"

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